After diagnosis of liver cancer, one of the most important procedure done is staging. Staging refers to the extent of the cancer and how far it has spread. Liver cancer staging is very important as it can help doctors determine the kind of treatment that is required.
The liver cancer staging is done based on the TNM system of staging.
The TNM system of staging has the following factors:
Tumor (T): This determines how large the cancer has grown or if there is more than one tumor in the liver or if the cancer has reached nearby structures in the liver like the veins.
Lymph node s (N): This factor indicates if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
Metastasis (M): This factor refers to whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Liver cancer staging is done usually based on the results of the biopsies, physical exam and imaging tests. If surgery is conducted, the pathological state is determined by examining the tissue that was removed during the surgery.
Classification of liver cancer stages
Liver cancer is classified into four stages, that are listed below:
Also known as the earliest stage of liver cancer, at this stage the cancer has not grown out to the blood vessels and there is only a single tumor. Stage 1 is also further divided into stage 1a and state 1b.
At stage 2 the single tumor has grown into the blood vessels of the liver.
Stage 3 is a little more advanced than stage 2 and consists of stage 3a and stage 3b and each substage states how big the tumor has grown and how far the cancer has spread.
Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of liver cancer and this stage is divided into two substances stage 4a and stage 4b and this stage is also known as metastatic liver cancer which means the cancer at this stage has spread to nearby lymph nodes and distant organs.